South Korean Bosses Could Face Prison Time Under New Anti-Bullying Laws

Jul 24, 2019 | GOV, Korea, NEWS

USAG Daegu Program – Korea | Morning Calm Weekly

Could South Korea’s new anti-bullying laws finally discipline the country’s unruly and abusive chaebols?

South Korea has recently passed anti-bullying laws specifically for its workplaces, with penalties that could land abusive bosses in jail. This is landmark legislation as this is the first time that South Korea has passed a law that will make employers liable for behaviors that are contrary to the wellbeing of employees. 

70% of Employees Are Bullied

Workers in South Korea will now be able to report instances of bullying, such as being forced to join company activities, or even gossiping. South Korea is one of the worst places for employees when it comes to safety in the workplace, with 70% of employees reportedly affected by various forms of bullying.

Under the new law, employers are prohibited from taking any negative actions against employees who report workplace bullying. Employers who are found guilty can face prison or be fined up 30 million won, or $25,470. Victims of bullying can also apply for compensation if the workplace bullying has caused them to develop medical conditions.

According to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, employees in the country are regularly bullied by colleagues and superiors. Unfortunately, 60% of victims have been reported to have taken no action despite the aggression, and a significant portion of this group, 12%, face bullying on a daily basis.  

The government is now taking the initial steps to calibrate South Korean businesses and educate them about the types of behaviors and activities that count as workplace bullying. Situations like gossiping, forcing people to join activities, spreading personal or private information, and forcing someone to drink or smoke can now be reported as workplace bullying.

A National Shame

For a country that prides itself as progressive, it is unfortunate that South Korea continues to struggle with “gapjil” or the abusive behavior practiced by superiors, managers, and all other people who have authority in the workplace. The most recent “nut rage” incident that involved a Korean Air executive is a classic example of rich and powerful people forgetting that despite their social standing in society, the people who serve them have as many rights as they have, and deserve better treatment.

Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of the chairman of Korean Air, flew into a rage after being served peanuts still in their commercial packaging instead of on a plate. Such behavior is unacceptable coming from any passenger, so why would Cho Hyun-ah feel that she is entitled to engage in such behavior?

Last February, a criminal indictment was also passed down on Lee Myung-hee, who was the matriarch of the same dynasty. She had been litigated due to allegations of physical and verbal abuse against staff. Abuses included forcing staff to kneel before her, striking people on the forehead with a mop handle, and even drenching them in cold water.

The core of the problem is the fact that South Korea’s economy is actually dominated by family-owned businesses known as chaebols. The Korean business system has a powerful impact on national life, including the legal frameworks that could protect workers from further harm. It is a well-known fact in South Korea that reporting workplace bullying can be extremely difficult because of the lack of legal remedies that can bring perpetrators of bullying to justice.

The Health Hazards of Workplace Bullying

According to lawyer Shin Hana, who works for a victims abuse hotline called Gapjil 119, many of the calls that he fields on a daily basis report issues akin to serious conditions like PTSD, spontaneous panic attacks, insomnia, and even people developing phobias – all because of workplace bullying.

According Hana, prior to the passing of the new anti-bullying law, there were absolutely no restrictions that applied to harassment or aggression in the workplace. Existing labor laws in South Korea simply mandated that workplaces had to be physically safe to work in. The conditions of what actually constituted a modern and “safe working environment” were problematic, with legal definitions unable to take into account the reality of “gapjil.” “Employers hold the attitude of saying, ‘I paid you, so I own you.’ They believe that they can buy the person,” Shin said.

China Aims to Phase Out Sale of Live Poultry at Food Markets

China on Friday vowed to gradually phase out the slaughter and sale of live poultry at food markets, in a move welcomed by animal rights activists amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Movie Streaming Sparks Fears for Bollywood Theaters Built for ‘Cinema Magic’

A Bollywood actor’s face tattooed on his arm, Sandeep Bacche’s devotion shocks few in India where stars enjoy semi-divine status. But even here the hallowed silver screen may be losing its shine to streaming services and pandemic fears.

Vietnam Debut World’s First ‘Gold-Plated’ Hotel

The world’s first self-proclaimed gold-plated hotel is open for business – and the Vietnamese owners insist they have the Midas touch despite the cramping of global travel during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Late K-pop Star Goo Hara’s Ex Jailed for Sex Video Blackmail

The ex-boyfriend of late K-pop star Goo Hara was jailed by an appeal court Thursday for blackmailing her over sex videos that played a part in her apparent suicide.

Pakistan Blocks Online Game PUBG Over ‘Negative’ Impact

Pakistan on Wednesday temporarily blocked the hugely popular online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) after receiving complaints it was addictive and following media reports linking the brutal, multiplayer shoot ’em up to suicide.

Top Asian Podcasts You Should be Listening to

Podcasts have soared in popularity over the recent years. This has made finding awesome content not as hard as it used to be. If you want to delve into this world, here are some great podcasts to start with.

The Best Asian LBGTQ Films to Watch this Pride Month

If you can’t attend Asian Pride parties and events, one of the best ways to celebrate is to check out movies that show an honest narrative about the Asian LBGTQ community.

DMZ Music Festival Returns for it’s Third Year in the World’s Most Guarded Demilitarized Zone

If you’re up for a music adventure of a lifetime, look no further. The DMZ Peace Train Music Festival held in the demilitarized zone of North and South Korea is the best way to experience peace through your favorite artists.

Fighting Racism with Art: Asian Artists Take the Lead

The effects of the pandemic are still greatly felt, but there’s one more problem that has escalated because of it: Racism. Asian-Americans adversely affected by xenophobia have spoken up. Hear what artists, influencers, and designers have to say.

Must-Have Korean Staples in the Kitchen

If you really love Korean food, you will love these kitchen staples.

Thailand’s Obsession with Instagram

Meet the most popular Thai celebrities on Instagram and why we are Obsessed! Aside from being 2018’s stage of the worldwide beauty pageant Miss Universe, Thailand is one of the most beautiful and...

Crazy Social Media Happenings in Asia

West or east? Wealthy or not? A quick snapshot of two of the craziest happenings on Asian social media

Singapore Robot Dog Assist in Social Distance Patrol

A yellow robot dog called Spot which found fame online for dancing to hit song “Uptown Funk” has been deployed to patrol a Singapore park and ensure people observe social distancing.

Coronavirus Lingers on Surfaces but Disinfectants Kill It

New research from Singapore published Wednesday showed that patients with the novel coronavirus extensively contaminate their bedrooms and bathrooms, underscoring the need to routinely clean high-touch surfaces, basins and toilet bowls.

Visiting the North Korea DMZ

Whether you are coming in from the Northern side, or the Southern side, a DMZ tour is infinitely unique and enlightening.

Monster Croc Wrangler Joins Indonesia to Save Tire-Trapped Crocodile

An Australian television personality has thrown his hat in the ring to help capture a giant Indonesian crocodile and remove a motorcycle tire stuck around its neck.

The Asian Misconception: Philippines

Home to a hundred million amazing people, the Philippines is often get viewed the wrong way. It’s about time we dispel some of these misconceptions.

Exiled K-Pop Star May Finally Return to Korea after 17 Years

A K-pop singer who was deported and barred from South Korea for avoiding conscription by becoming a US citizen should be allowed to return after 17 years in exile, a court ruled Friday.

Being Invisible: Japan Disabled Lawmakers Fight for Inclusion

Japanese lawmaker Yasuhiko Funago has a neurological disease that means he cannot speak and communicates by blinking to his carer or operating a computer system with his mouth.

Chinese Drones Grounded by U.S. Over Security Concerns

The US Department of the Interior has grounded its fleet of Chinese-made drones as it conducts a review of the program.

3D Printing: Building Mega Structures in Asia

3D printing has gone from a casual curiosity to big business in less than twenty years

The Importance of Pride Month in Asia

The openness of a community in renowned conservative nations is a true mark of bravery

‘I’m Cheering for You’: Robot Welcome at Tokyo Quarantine

Coronavirus quarantine can be lonely, but at one Tokyo hotel converted to accept patients with mild symptoms, a humanoid robot will be there to offer support and encouragement — as well as admonishments and warnings.

Wuhan Finds 300 Infections After Testing Nearly 10 Million People

China tested almost 10 million people for coronavirus in just over two weeks in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic began, officials said Tuesday, reporting only a few hundred positive cases.

Hong Kong Medics Strike for China Border Closure

Hundreds of Hong Kong medical workers walked off their jobs on Monday, demanding the city close its border with China to reduce the coronavirus spreading — with frontline staff threatening to follow suit in the coming days.

No Screaming Please: Japanese Amusement Parks Prepare for Virus Era

No screaming on the rollercoaster, socially distant spooks in the haunted house and please refrain from high-fiving your favorite superhero: welcome to Japanese amusement parks in the coronavirus era.

Bakers in India Make World’s ‘Longest’ Cake

It was a record-baking effort. Hundreds of bakers and chefs in southern India came together Wednesday to create what they said is the world’s longest cake — about 6.5 kilometers (four miles).

Trump Says Evidence Ties China Lab to Virus

Donald Trump claimed he has seen evidence the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab, as he threatened tariffs on Beijing over its role in the global pandemic.

Pandemic Dead Give New Delhi Gravedigger Sleepless Nights

Death had not fazed gravedigger Mohammed Shamim up to now, but since the grip of the coronavirus crisis has tightened in New Delhi, a shiver runs up even his spine each time he sees a hearse pull up at the cemetery he tends.

China Punishes NBA as Crisis Over Democracy Tweet

China on Tuesday pulled NBA exhibition games from television screens as the league faced an escalating punishment campaign in the lucrative Chinese market ignited by an American basketball executive’s pro-democracy tweet.

Top Artists Performing in Asia: Concert Schedule 2019

Definitive Schedules of the Biggest Artists performing in 2019 Here in Asia

Low Income Workers Used by Tax Evaders of Luxury Car Scheme

No one was more surprised to learn that Dimas Prayitno owned a Rolls-Royce than the 21-year-old Indonesian himself, who was baffled when told he owed $15,000 in taxes on the luxury vehicle.

Medical Marijuana To Be Made Available in Thailand

Thailand is making headway in making medical marijuana available to all patients nationwide.

Trash Talk: Asia is Not Your Dumping Ground

Developed countries send their waste to Asian countries with little to no warning

Nicknamed ‘The Thing’: Massive Prehistoric Egg Mystery Case Cracked

Scientists had nicknamed it “The Thing” — a mysterious football-sized fossil discovered in Antarctica that sat in a Chilean museum awaiting someone who could work out just what it was.

Don’t Miss the Top Things to Do in Macau

Macau is a paradise for people who love culture and food. Ready to explore the land of towering casinos and mouth watering egg tarts? Check out what to do in the booming city of Macau

Japan’s Problem With Celibacy and Sexlessness

Japan is on the brink of a national calamity with its declining birth rates that will affect a third of its population by 2060.

Million More Tickets Going on Sale for Tokyo Olympic 2020

Tokyo Olympics organisers said Friday they will put around a million more tickets for the 2020 Games on sale this month, with seats up for grabs at the boxing for the first time.

Kim Jong-Un: The Asian Bad Boy with the Jets and the Dough

How rich is Kim Jong-Un? His wealth is believed to be in the billions, but his people are probably fighting for scraps at this very moment.

Huge Surge of Hate Speech toward Chinese on Twitter

The coronavirus outbreak has led to a 900 percent uptick in hate speech toward China and Chinese people on Twitter, according to a report by a tech startup.

Wuhan’s ‘Wet Markets’ Struggle After Virus Lockdown

At a large food market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, signs forbid the selling of wild animals and live fowl, while announcements calling for “victory” over COVID-19 play on a loop from speakers.

Fossils of New Human Species Discovered in the Philippines

The human family tree has just grown much larger with the addition of a newfound member. This recent discovery put yet another piece to the puzzle as we try to understand human evolution in Asia.

U2 Brings The Joshua Tree Tour To Asia

U2 will be in Asia this coming November and December to perform, for the first time in Singapore, at the National Stadium as part of the band’s The Joshua Tree World Tour.

Ordinary People Barred From China’s 70th Parade

Authorities would not allow just anyone to get near the parade route, with large swathes of central Beijing on lockdown so troops, tanks and missiles could file past Tiananmen Square.

Filmmaker Roya Sadat: Voice of the Afghan Women

For a generation, Roya Sadat has been a voice for Afghan women in one of the world’s worst places to be one.

South Korea Virus Tests Surge After Promising Anonymity

Coronavirus screening has surged in South Korea since authorities introduced anonymous testing, officials said Wednesday, as they scrambled to tackle a nightclub cluster amid concerns anti-gay prejudice could impede the response.

Robots May Become Heroes in War on Coronavirus

Long maligned as job-stealers and aspiring overlords, robots are being increasingly relied on as fast, efficient, contagion-proof champions in the war against the deadly coronavirus.

Netflix’s ‘Happy Jail’ Offers Interesting Portrait of Prison Life

Directed by Michele Josue, Happy Jail details the life of inmates and authorities inside the Philippines’ Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. Here’s everything you need to know about the documentary.

Tragic Yarn: India-China Border Spat Hits Global Cashmere Production

The world is heading for a shortage of the highly prized and super-soft cashmere wool as pashmina goats that live on the “roof of the world” become caught up in the fractious border dispute between nuclear neighbors India and China.

Japan’s Uniqlo Takes Plunge in India Retail Market

McKinsey said that the vast nation’s apparel market was forecast to be worth $59.3 billion in 2022, making it the sixth-largest in the world.

Singapore Accused of ‘Coup de Grâce’ to Finish Botched Executions

Singapore on Wednesday denied claims by a Malaysian rights group that it used a brutal “coup de grace” to finish off botched executions and ordered Yahoo and other sites to correct reports of the matter.

Indonesia Offers Reward for Removing Tire Stuck on Crocodile’s Neck

Indonesian authorities are offering a reward to anyone who can rescue a saltwater crocodile with a motorbike tire stuck around its neck — and survive.

New ‘Cleaner’ Fuel Linked to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Mongolia

One cold night in October, Gerel Ganbaatar decided to stay with her parents in one of Mongolia’s traditional ger communities on the outskirts of the capital — a decision which would prove fatal.

Vietnam Shares Kitchen Disasters During Lockdown

Burnt bread, collapsed cakes and inedible potatoes: the kitchen failures of Vietnamese families in self-isolation are being shared online, with hundreds of thousands joining a Facebook group to commiserate over their culinary catastrophes.

China: Universal Studios Park will Use Facial Recognition

The Universal Studios amusement park under construction in Beijing will admit visitors without a ticket thanks to cameras that will scan their faces to determine if they’ve paid for entry.

Sophia Wong Boccio on Netflix, Crazy Rich Asians, and Why You Must Watch Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema

With a brilliant film line-up and top-tier guests, the Asian Pop-Up Cinema is truly one to watch. Festival founder and executive director sparks conversations about her childhood, small screen movies, and making Chicago an international destination through films.

North Korea Opens New Border Crossing In Chinese City

North Korea has finally opened a new border crossing in a Chinese city amidst tensions between Pyongyang and Washington over some disagreements in an already failing nuclear deal.

Hikikomori: Inside Japan’s Alarmingly Common Problem

What is happening to Japan’s young men? And, why do they choose to stay in isolation?